I woke up to hear this bombshell on the “Today” programme, which we can get in Brussels, this morning hardly able to contain myself. Trafficking of women is to a large extent trafficking to sell women into prostitution. These often unsuspecting women are lured away from their homes, frequently on the pretext of a better life elsewhere, only to find themselves totally in thrall to ruthless criminals whose only aim is to exploit them for gain. It really is a modern form of slavery and should be treated as such. I hope there will be a major outcry against the Met’s plans so that they are forced to think again.
What is more, the Met trafficking unit has been viewed as an international example of good practice. It also takes several years to develop expertise into trafficking, expertise which would more than likely be lost if the Met were to disband its unit which has built up a range of knowledge since its inception in 2007. The nature of the crime also means that those cases which are brought to book are only the tip of the iceberg and if more of the iceberg is to be exposed, specialist expertise is required.
There is, in addition, the matter of the Olympics in London in 2012. The last football World Cup in Germany attracted thousnads of prostitutes who openly plied their wares as prostitution is legal in Germany. I was, in fact, one of a number of women who signed a petition to the German Government to outlaw prostitution at the World Cup. The general view was that a large number, more than likely the majority of those women had been trafficked from outside the host country. For the sake of the trafficked women, we need to be extremely vigilant to ensure that the same thing does not happen in London in 2012. It would be a massive tragedy if the Games were marred by any form of criminal element.
The Labour Government has been very vigilant on the fight to stamp out trafficking. When I organised my “Tackling Trafficking” conference two years ago, we were joined by the then Home Office Minister, Vernon Coker. I therefore call on the Met to see sense and keep the trafficking unit.
I have started a petition asking the Met to rethink its plans for shutting this vital unit down.
You can also follow my campaign by clicking on my campaigns page.